A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced finance minister Pranab Mukherjee as the ruling alliance's choice for the coveted post, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said youth of the country want A.P.J Abdul Kalam to be the President of India.
"There was a demand from the side of youths to make him President. I also wanted him to contest elections. The method Congress party is using to make people comply with its choice. I came to seek advice that how we can strengthen democracy," Swamy said after meeting Kalam.
"He never told me that he is a candidate. When I was arguing that he should be a candidate, the only commitment, I got from him, earlier was that he will not announce himself as candidate," he added.
"He (Kalam) has a clean image. The youngsters and in particular the school going children like him. He did a lot for schools and colleges as President of the country. He is knowledgeable," he added.
On West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's rejection of Mukherjee as the presidential candidate, Swamy said: "We respect Mamata Banerjee, she has shown guts...I personally would like to see Pranab challenged."
Swamy had earlier said there is a leadership crisis in the country.
"We have a leadership crisis today. We need a leadership which takes risk and that will happen only when you elect people properly...I expect the next President will be Abdul Kalam," he said.
Sonia Gandhi had over the past few days held consultations with senior leaders and allies to zero in on a consensus for the Presidential candidate.
The latest development comes a day after Banerjee warned the Centre, and indirectly hinted at toppling the government.
Banerjee also said Dr. A.P.J. Kalam was her first choice for the President's post.
"Our formidable candidate is Kalam. They rejected the name of other candidates. So now Kalam is our candidate. We will be very happy if Kalam contest the elections and he will win the elections," said Banerjee.
"Every party should support Kalam. It should have nothing to do with politics."
"It is good if there is consensus. If there were no consensus, then we would appeal to electorates to vote according to their conscience. I have no information about it," she added, while urging the leaders of various other political outfits to back Kalam's candidature.
The presidential elections will be held on July 19. The vote count will take place on July 22.
If Mukherjee wins, he will become the nation's 13th President on July 25.
Mukherjee has served as finance minister, foreign minister and commerce minister twice and also as defence minister. He chairs most of the cabinet committees tasked with making recommendations on important issues.
Source : asianage